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October 2009 Archives

October 1, 2009

This “universe” really does revolve around him


“I am often asked to say some nice things about Mike Turner,” said his friend and collaborator Edward “Rocky” Kolb, the astronomy and astrophysics chair. “And I’m sick of it!” Such was the tone of “Michael Turner’s Universe,” the day-long celebration of the life and work of the Chicago astrophysicist, founder of particle cosmology, and noted wag. Turner was marking his 60th birthday—or, as handouts with the day’s agenda listed, 2 × 109 s. (Eh, close enough.)

Turner and Kolb wrote a 1994 book that is still the standard text on the early history of the universe, and it was the former who coined the term “dark energy” to describe the mysterious stuff that makes up the majority of our universe. An all-star team of presenters gave talks in his honor. Each was part scientific symposium, part tribute, and part roast. For example, Wendy Freedman of the Carnegie Observatories discussed Turner’s role in recognizing the dark energy's existence but joked, “He’s done almost nothing to illuminate the nature of dark energy, and now that he’s 60, he’s unlikely to in the future.”

Not every tribute was so cutting. Dennis Overbye, science reporter for the New York Times, came to thank the “eminently quotable” Turner for being available to explain in layman’s terms the astronomical discovery du jour. “On behalf of the New York Times and science journalists everywhere, thanks for making our lives a little easier and a lot more fun.” And Kolb, in a serious moment, compared Turner’s work with that of another Turner, Frederick Jackson Turner, the 19th-century historian who wrote about the American frontier. Kolb praised the younger Turner as an explorer of the scientific frontier of particle cosmology.

Turner occasionally delivered a witty riposte from his seat but took most of the ribbing in stride. During Chicago colleague Josh Frieman's introductory remarks, Turner jokingly asked if he would get a chance to rebut. Later that day, Freedman turned the tables by announcing that Turner would get a chance—at 6 a.m. Saturday morning. No word as to what kind of crowd he drew.

Benjamin Recchie, AB'03



Low on Monet

postersale.jpgAh, the first week of school. Along with trying to find that tricky room in Classics for Intro to Greek, students are still getting situated in their new digs. The photos of friends and family, the inspirational poster of a man at the top of a snow-capped mountain with “ACHIEVEMENT” stamped in all caps at the bottom, the colorful tapestry hanging over the desk—it’s all good, but there’s still room behind the bed for that perfect decoration.

The solution: the Reynolds Club's annual back-to-school poster sale. In the past, students pretty much bought only art prints, said the woman behind the counter, which was stocked with poster tack to dissuade students from poking holes in dorm walls. Monets are still a popular item, she said, “but now students buy everything.”

“Everything” consists of hundreds of large posters in the $8–$10 range, as well as smaller prints and $1 postcards. Did you become a Megan Fox fan after her recent stint as host of Saturday Night Live? Well you’re in luck: a scantily clad Fox revealing a Superman “S” was on display in multiple spots. Do you wake up in a cold sweat on Sunday nights wondering what’s going to happen with Chuck and Blair? Hang the Gossip Girl cast on your wall to watch over you while you sleep. For the spiritually inclined, the sale offered a selection of posters featuring the Dalai Lama’s nuggets of wisdom, like "We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves." And there was no shortage of famous artworks.

The friend I was with, a fourth-year English PhD student, pointed out the “Procrastinator’s Creed,” a list of rules by which all procrastinators should abide (starting tomorrow). “That’s perfect for you,” he said, before picking out the Gustave Doré drawing “Don Quixote in His Library” to hang in his new apartment.

The sale runs through tomorrow, October 2, from 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Ruth E. Kott, AM'07

October 6, 2009

Market Madness recap

To: Market Madness Tournament Players & Bookies
From:   Allen R. Sanderson, Department of Economics
In re: The 16 Teams in Retrospect
Date: October 6, 2009

Dear Friends (or BFF—Best Former Friends),

Thanks to all of you who played Market Madness over the past few weeks. I hope you had some intellectual (aka University of Chicago) fun in the process and perhaps even learned something, or that it stirred some interest in you to read more about your least-favorite team or industry. It was fun for me to collaborate with the Magazine’s editor and her colleagues on this project.

In thinking about, and explaining, the discrepancies between alumni/friend voting and my own ex-ante completion of the brackets and explanations, I offer the following comments:

First, there is what I would call a sample selection bias. That is, I have no information on the “voting public” in this case. We know, for example, that gender differences exist in terms of political leanings, views about competitive versus cooperative behaviors, etc. Furthermore, students sort themselves into College majors that reflect, in part, their political and societal preferences. (At Chicago, about 59 percent of students take at least one economics class, and that experience may well influence their choices here.) Inasmuch as I/we did not sort by other factors, there is no way of knowing how representative—and representative of what—the tallies are.

In part, I am sure that the divergence of your picks from mine reflects the opinion of economists in general versus the general public—even a well-informed public. Whether the topic is gasoline prices, immigration, outsourcing, the level of U.S. foreign aid, tax policies, or international trade, economists simply think differently than the representative American about what constitutes the truth. (In addition, academic economists tend to be far less liberal than their social-scientist and humanities colleagues.)

We will have a good test of this assertion and observation in January 2010: the American Economic Association, the principal “parent company” for academic and real-world economists, holds its annual meeting—around 8,000 members attend, this year in Atlanta. The official in charge of putting together sessions and complementary activities was intrigued about our tournament and asked for the Magazine’s permission to reprint the brackets and my somewhat flip team descriptions in the conference program. So in the spring we should have good data from those professionals to compare with the voting patterns of University of Chicago alumni. We will get that AEA data for you later in 2010.

I would be willing to wager part of the University’s endowment that most economists, picking from the 16 original factors given in Market Madness, would have the Moral Hazards pitted against the Foreclosures in the final game.

Allen Sanderson

October 9, 2009

500—and counting

This morning the University of Chicago held its 500th convocation ceremony. What’s that—UChicago is 127 years older than Harvard? Sadly, no. Since its founding in 1891, Chicago has held a graduation ceremony four times a year, at the end of each academic quarter, plus special convocations for occasions such as presidential inaugurations, when the University awards honorary degrees. Therefore—according to the same brand of creative accounting that allows Chicago to claim Bertrand Russell among its Nobel laureates—the University has achieved 500 ceremonies, not ceremonies for 500 years.

Curious about the convocation tradition, I visited Andrew Hannah, the registrar. Hannah showed me a breakdown of all University graduates going back to spring 1893, the first time degrees were given out. Suddenly the University of Chicago didn’t seem like such an exclusive club: how exclusive can it be when 232,127 memberships have been extended? (More creative accounting: the 1893 ceremony was actually the third convocation. At the first two, in 1891 and 1892, there were speakers but no graduates. If you don’t count those events, though, we’re only at 498.)

Convocations at the fledgling University were tiny, as you would imagine. At the 1893 ceremony 34 degrees were awarded: one doctorate (awarded first, to make the point that this was a graduate institution, not just another garden-variety Baptist college), four masters degrees, 14 divinity, and 15 baccalaureate.

UChicagoMedallion.jpgOf course, the numbers picked up quickly. By 1896–97 there were 205 grads, and the figure roughly doubled every ten years: 538 grads in 1906–07, 944 in 1916–17, and 1,697 in 1926–27. It stayed in the upper thousands—with the exception of a dip during World War II—until 1946–47, when returning GIs swelled the ranks to 2,269.

The hard figures clearly show the “small College” years: in spring 1965 the University awarded more master’s degrees than bachelor’s degrees, not even counting all the MBAs. The trend lasted until spring 1979, when ABs narrowly pulled ahead, beating the AMs 397–394. For the past 20 years, the AB number has been on the increase, cracking into the thousands for the first time in spring 2007. Last spring the University unleashed 1,097 freshly minted bachelor’s degrees upon the world.

Which brings me to another question: Why does UChicago make such a point of calling its degrees AB and AM? Yes, yes, I know, it’s Latin, Artium baccalaureus, got it. But if I think back to my creaky high-school Latin (Hi, Mrs. Zachry!), it is not a language—unlike German, for example—that puts much emphasis on word order. Why does the adjective have to follow the noun?

So I called over to the classics department to ask if anyone would humor me by answering a very basic Latin question. They not only humored me, they put me on speakerphone. “In basic prose composition, the convention is that the adjective follows the noun it modifies,” explained lecturer Jessica Seidman, AM’08. “In a longer work, you would have more variation in word order. But in a two-word type of situation, you would usually go with the canonical form.”

“College degrees came much later than classical times, but there was a long Latin tradition that lasted up until a century ago, and the AB word order would be part of that tradition,” added lecturer Alex Lee. “Having said that”—CAUTION: heresy alert—“grammatically speaking, it is not a violation to write BA.”

“Alas,” says University archivist Daniel Meyer, AM’75, PhD’94, today the language on the degrees is English. Originally the entire degree was written in Latin, including the graduate and faculty names. For example, on the doctoral certificate for Edith Abbott, PhD 1905, cofounder of the School of Social Service Administration, she is addressed in accusative case (Editham), and the signatures of University officials also appear in Latinate form: Guilielmus Raineius Harper, Martinus Antonius Ryerson, Henricus Pratt Judson. Another bygone characteristic: the degrees were printed on parchment.

At some point the language was changed to the vernacular and the medium to paper, but neither Meyer nor Hannah seems to know when. I considered e-mailing John Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75, dean of the College, who has written 14 monographs on University history, but didn’t. Early in the academic year, surely he must be attending to more pressing matters.

So I’m left with as many questions as I had when I started, but different ones. For example: Why does Columbia University’s undergraduate college continue to print its diplomas in Latin (“The only thing I could read was my name,” says my cubicle neighbor and Columbia alumna, Katherine Muhlenkamp) yet call the degree a BA? Why does no one at UChicago seem to know or care why the degrees are no longer in Latin, but when Harvard changed to English in 1961, 4,000 furious Harvard students took to the streets in the Diploma Riots?

Finally, why are some degrees still in Latin at all? While searching for institutions that award Latin degrees, I come across this Internet plea: “Please translate this Latin diploma from Howard University! The secretary’s office at Howard University is...less than helpful. They print their diplomas in Latin and won’t give you a translation unless the graduate fills out a form. My boss and I don’t need an authorized, sealed translated diploma; we just need something in English so Immigration doesn’t get mad, and we need it ASAP.”

Is there really some additional cachet to the fact that degree recipients—classics graduates excepted—can’t read their own diplomas? Surely it makes one feel less educated, not more. After all, tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. If you don’t know what it means, look it up on Wikipedia.

Carrie Golus, AB'91, AM'93

October 12, 2009

Audio/Visuals: Green house


Environmentalist and recent "alternative Nobel" recipient David Suzuki, AM'93, shares his energy-saving tips.

October 13, 2009

Global problem, global response

WeighingDay.jpgPeter Singer cut the rhetorical ribbon for the University’s new Global Health Initiative (GHI) with a daunting litany: each year 15–17 million people in the developing world die from infectious diseases—malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS being “the big three.” Then there are the “silent killers of children”—pneumonia and diarrhea. “Behind that, lurking like Jack the Ripper in the alley,” is malnutrition in children from birth to age 2.

The stark reality of so much suffering sounded as if it demanded not only action, but also an action hero. Enter GHI director Olufunmilayo Olopade. Or, as Singer called her, “the Arnold Schwarzenegger of global health.”

As Chicago’s associate dean of global health, Olopade has no special effects at her disposal—and the initiative’s agenda makes California’s budget issues seem trivial by comparison—but she and her colleagues do not lack for ambition. “We want to be working on the biggest problems of our time,” said Donald Levy, vice president for research and national laboratories.

Under the sprawling umbrella of “global health,” the problems are so big that the term itself remains open to interpretation. “There is no widely agreed-to definition,” said Singer, director of the University of Toronto’s McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health and a former fellow at Chicago’s Center for Clinical Medical Ethics.

His September 30 lecture at the Knapp Center was a call to action on “the mother of all ethical challenges.” The nature of that challenge struck him when he worked on end-of-life care. It might take “$100 to save a baby’s life from cholera in Bangladesh,” he said, “but we spend $100,000-plus to extend life a couple weeks in Toronto.”

To Singer, such a disparity reflects the mission at the heart of global health—fostering a sense of shared humanity across continents. “The more important value even than equity is the issue of solidarity,” Singer said. “Until we feel a sense of moral linkage between my daughter in Canada and a farmer’s daughter in Uganda, these inequities won’t matter.”

That is, they will not spark the sense of urgency necessary to match the depth of the need. Toward that end, the GHI’s 15-member interdisciplinary steering committee is charged with developing solutions from more than just a medical perspective. The committee includes Susan Gzesh, AB’72, director of the Human Rights Program; anthropologist Kathleen D. Morrison; and Dali L. Yang, a political scientist who directs the Center for East Asian Studies.

Global health is not a discipline unto itself, Singer insisted, but a combination of many. “It’s about leveraging existing strengths and knowledge to help a much larger group of people. I want you to imagine unleashing that power of discovery against the problems in the developing world.”

Colleen Denny, a second-year student in the Pritzker School of Medicine, won the University's global-health photography contest with this image of Newborn Weighing Day at the Sagara Dispensary in Tanzania. The dispensary faces severe staff and supply shortages; its only medical attendant (Judith Deogracias, weighing the baby) has less training than a nurse, and the lack of an infant scale required the use of this tree-rigged harness. "But despite its difficulties, Tanzania has actually made vast strides forward in reducing infant mortality," Denny notes. "Community programs to educate mothers about the importance of vaccinations and regular check-ups have been noted successes, as evidenced by the number of waiting mothers in the photo."

October 14, 2009

Audio/Visuals: Circular logic

Music by Philip Glass, AB'56, accompanies "Geometry of Circles," an animation created thirty years ago for Sesame Street.

October 16, 2009

New road to hoe

When word came down a few months ago that the 61st Street Community Garden was slated to be dismantled at the end of October, gardeners Mikael Karlstrom, AM'90, PhD’99, and his wife Beth Browning, AM’89, MSW’98, began planning to move to a different neighborhood. “The garden has been the greatest single factor keeping us in Hyde Park the past few years,” Karlsrom says. Longtime Hyde Parkers and University employees, he and Browning, along with their seven-year-old daughter, have kept a plot since 2006, growing tomatoes, raspberries, greens, peas, and beans. “There’s such a sense of connection with nature and community energy at the garden. Everyone’s holding onto some kind of hope that somehow this won’t happen.”

garden3.jpgThat hope is, admittedly, slim. The University owns the parcel on which the community garden’s 143 ten-by-ten-foot plots sit, and ten years ago when the place was vacant administrators invited a few community members to establish a garden. The agreement was always temporary, though, and the University has decided it needs the land back. Next spring, when construction begins next door on a new home for the Chicago Theological Seminary, the garden will be converted into a staging area for the project. On October 30 the garden will officially close, and two weeks after that the gardeners must move all their belongings off the lot.

The outcry from gardeners has been intense, and organizers Jack Spicer and Jamie Kalven, U-High'65, spent months trying to persuade the University to rethink its plans, to find an “elegant solution,” as Kalven calls it, that would spare the garden while allowing the construction to go forward. University officials offered to help the gardeners find a new location and move their topsoil, but they remained firm on their plans: no alternatives exist to closing the garden. Surrounded by three schools within a two-block radius and hemmed in by the University Press building, a University steam plant, and a busy Dorchester Avenue, the construction site offers few options, says Sonya Malunda, the University’s associate vice president for civic engagement. “We have a responsibility to make sure everyone is safe,” Malunda says, “whether they’re on site or nearby.”

Negotiations with the University are no longer active, Kalven says, though he, Spicer, and other gardeners still hope the place will be saved. In the meantime, Kalven, a journalist, last week began posting an online “live documentary” on the garden, featuring “The Garden Conversations,” two- to five-minute interviews with gardeners standing amid the verdant lushness of sunflowers, pole beans, tomato plants, corn stalks, peppers, and marigolds.

In the videos Debra Hammond, AM'90, MBA’95, describes how the garden helped temper her once-corporate existence: “It’s really changed me,” she says. “It teaches you about food, and it teaches you about yourself.” Marvin Hoffman and Rosellen Brown describe summers full of “garden meals” supplemented by the 61st Street farmer’s market, which along with Experimental Station next door to the east, forms a kind of "synergy," Hoffman says, with the garden. Leaning on a rake, retired Army veteran and first-time gardener Mike Slatton describes the bounty he shared with his Woodlawn neighbors: red cabbage, golden potatoes, sweet corn, watermelons, string beans, collards, kale, five varieties of tomatoes, and more. “I got three celery plants—big celery,” Slatton says. “I fed people celery all summer long.”

According to Kalven, one purpose of "The Garden Conversations" is to show how "the garden speaks in multiple voices" and articulate its meaning and value, not only to the gardeners, but to its neighbors, including the University. The videos are part of an ongoing effort, he says, “to describe and evoke what is unrelocatable about the garden, and what we’ve been nourished by all these years.”

Praising the work the gardeners have done, Malunda says she's sympathetic to their sorrow. But she hopes that in the end they'll take their trowels and trellises to another site. Gardeners say they can't "just pick this up and replicate it somewhere else,” Malunda says. “And I get that. But you also have vacant lots in the neighborhood that need community-building. What about them?”

Lydialyle Gibson

Photo by Patricia Evans.

October 19, 2009

Audio/Visuals: Superfreakonomist


Economics professor Steven D. Levitt talks about controversial findings in his new book SuperFreakonomics, the followup to Freakonomics.

October 20, 2009

Send in the clowns

Given the theme—laughter—of this year’s Chicago Humanities Festival, it seemed bold of the organizers to start the party on the U of C campus. Inviting a neuroscientist and a philosopher to give the opening lectures (and charging admission!) was equally audacious. As I scanned the crowd at Ida Noyes Hall last Saturday morning, the average age of audience members made me wonder if a giant fleet of Elderhostel buses had disembarked outside. Still, no one seemed the least bit worried about fun coming in to die.


Neurology professor Steven Small kicked off the festival with fair warning that he aimed “not to make you laugh, but to inform you about how laughter is mediated in the human brain.” He explained that laughter, “an exquisitely human phenomenon,” was also an anatomical reflex. Down the street in Fulton Recital Hall, philosopher Jonathan Lear dissected irony with the help of funny folks like Kierkegaard and Socrates. His goal was to explain irony’s basic structure and isolate what happens to us psychologically in the “ironic moment.”

Were there chuckles and appreciative nods? Sure. But no one really laughed out loud until the noontime session, “Deconstructing the Latke-Hamantash Debate,” in Mandel Hall. Following a brief history of the annual tradition, philosophy professor Ted Cohen emceed a mock version of the debate for the CHF audience. In full academic regalia, two presenters made their pitch. Opera expert Philip Gossett theorized about Verdi’s love of fruit pastries and showed how key passages in a newly analyzed manuscript of Rigoletto revealed the composer’s long passion for hamantaschen. Biologist James Shapiro (who showed his sense of humor with a 2007 journal article entitled “Bacteria are Small But Not Stupid” (pdf)) did a genomic analysis that proved the latke’s inferiority. The hamantash’s morphology, cortical development, and tasty “poppy-seed endoplasm” proved its intelligent design, Shapiro argued. Belly laughs followed.

Later in the day, audiences heard scholarly presentations on Molière’s comedic mission and the role of laughter in opera. The Chicago Humanities Festival—and the fun—will continue November 2–15 around the city.

Elizabeth Station

October 21, 2009

Audio/Visuals: Chicago symphony

Listen to "Allegro inquieto" from music professor Easley Blackwood's Symphony no. 5, op. 34, as performed in 1992 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conducted by James DePreist.

October 22, 2009

Heart of Glass


What is it about Philip Glass’s music that gives everything a hypnotic, monumental quality? With Glass, AB'56, on my iPod, even the morning commute feels epic. The rattle of the ‘L’ merges with the relentless, repetitive bass line; wires against the gray sky become a metaphor for human futility. Every person on the Red Line seems to brim with existential angst—especially me, with the soundtrack from The Hours blaring in my ears.

If you like Philip Glass, his music makes you want to throw yourself off a cliff—but in a good way. If you hate him, you want to throw him off the cliff. As a member of the former group, I was thrilled to nab a ticket to his sold-out performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art last week. And I had questions. What would he play during an evening of solo piano? Would he get jiggy with the artwork, like the Glass Ensemble used to do in the 1970s? Would the Chicago math and philosophy grad give a shout-out to his alma mater and former hometown?

Answers—like Glass’s thundering left hand—came fast and furious. Although last month he premiered an opera and released a new recording of his “Toltec” Symphony No. 7, the composer mined older material (the 1989 Metamorphoses and 1994–99 Etudes) for his one-hour MCA gig. Casually dressed in black pants and a gray button-down shirt, his demeanor was courteous and contained. He played with concentration but made no overt connection to the 300 people gathered in the small theater.

Which leads to another question: why, at 72, does Glass even bother to play live? Certainly not to showcase his virtuosity; introducing the second set, he joked, “I’ve composed 16 etudes, and I’ve learned ten of them.” Glass’s newer operas, film scores, symphonies, and chamber music are lush and lyrical, shattering early categorizations of his work as minimalist. The piano compositions, in contrast, seem spare and workmanlike.

Glass hinted at an explanation in a recent interview, arguing (like John Cage) that one of the principles of modernism is that “the audience completes the work of art, that a work of art has no independent existence; it’s a transaction.” For the performer, the encounter is necessary. And for the listener, there is something riveting about hearing a composer play his own work, regardless of the technique. When Glass trundles through Etude No. 2, we feel excitement and a sense of privilege, as when a master architect unrolls an old blueprint and guides us through the drawings, many years after the house is built.

Elizabeth Station

Photo courtesy Giorgio Constantine.

October 23, 2009

Audio/Visuals: Influence of immigrants

Public television journalist Ray Suarez, AM'92, talks about immigration as it relates to business, politics, culture and demographic changes in our schools.

October 26, 2009

Audio/Visuals: Choice architecture

PBS Nightly Business Report's Susie Gharib interviews Chicago Booth professor Richard Thaler about behavioral finance and its practical implications.

October 27, 2009

A sort of Homecoming

University of Chicago homecoming game, 2009

Okay, I’ll just come right out and admit it: I may have two degrees from the University of Chicago, but until Homecoming this past Saturday, I had never, ever been to a Maroons football game. But then again, I had never had six-year-old sons, who—in a triumph of nature over nurture—already know more about sports than I do.

“What’s the U of C, Division Six?” a friend of mine, a DePaul alumnus and former sports reporter, had asked when I told him about our weekend plans.

“Divison Three,” I corrected him snippily. “And founding members of the Big Ten.”

“Which actually has eleven teams,” he said. “And oddly, Chicago is still not one of them.”

Well, I didn’t know that either. I know what a touchdown is and what a first down is, and that’s about it. In fact, my ignorance of football was so deep and abiding that although I have lived in Hyde Park off and on since 1988, I could not even find the stadium entrance.

“Where are we going, Mommy?” one of the six-year-olds wanted to know.

“Why is this taking so long?” asked the other one.

“How are we supposed to get in?”

“Where’s the gate?”

“How did all those people get in?”

“Do we have to climb the fence?”

“We’re missing it! We’re missing it!”

“We’re never going to get in!”

For the record, fellow English majors, the entrance to the stadium is not on 55th Street. It is on 56th.

As usual, we were late in the first place, so by the time we arrived, it was the start of the second quarter. We walked along the bottom of the stands, looking for somewhere to sit, and—to my amazement—the stands were almost entirely full. True, they would hold perhaps 300 people, about as much seating as was provided for my high school's junior-varsity team, but still.

With just under 15 minutes to go in the first half, the Maroons were up 14-0. “The Maroons are good!” said six-year-old A. Later, apropos of nothing, he amended his opinion to “Whoever they’re playing must be really bad.” I explained that the opposing team was Denison (since I know as much about liberal-arts colleges as about Division III sports, I had to Google it to discover it was in Granville, Ohio). Six-year-old A, perhaps dreaming of Chicago’s storied Big Ten past, kept referring to them as Minnesota.

We ended up sitting crisscross applesauce at the bottom of the stands, just inside the fence. We could hardly see past the football players standing on the sidelines, so I watched the cheerleaders instead, which is what I mostly did at high-school football games anyway. I was hoping for some of the infamous University of Chicago cheers, which I had read about but never heard, such as:

Themistocles, Thucydides,
The Peloponnesian War,
X squared, Y squared,
Who for? What for?
Who we gonna yell for?
Go, Maroons!

Or perhaps:

Gimme the speed of light.....C
Gimme Planck's constant.....H
Gimme root negative one.....I
Gimme carbon.....C
Gimme the Bohr radius.....A
Gimme the gravitational constant.....G
Gimme the additive identity of a non-trivial group.....O
What's that spell?.....Chicago!

Sadly, no. The cheerleaders did some cool lifts and round-offs, but the cheers were nothing more original than “Maroon and white, all right all right, let me see you win tonight” and “First and ten, do it again, go fight win.”

By halftime the score was 17-0, despite a dramatic interception by Denison that gained 54 yards but no touchdown, and the six-year-olds were ready to leave. I managed, by offering a bribe of popcorn, to persuade them to stay for the halftime show, when 13 members of the original 1969 varsity football squad—the first varsity team since Robert Maynard Hutchins famously abolished football in 1939—were recognized.

The final score, as I discovered later by checking the athletics department’s Web site, was 38-7. I cut and pasted the headline “Maroons Celebrate Homecoming with a 38-7 Victory!” into the subject line of an e-mail to my sarcastic DePaul friend. “Over Denison,” I wrote, thinking that, as a Chicago native, he would have to be more up on Midwest colleges.

But to no avail. “Congratulations on a resounding victory over a college that you clearly just made up,” he wrote back, “to hide the fact that U of C doesn’t actually have a football team.”

Perhaps he's still bitter about the fact that DePaul—somewhat less famously—also abolished its football team in 1939.

Carrie Golus, AB'91, AM'93

October 30, 2009

Audio/Visuals: Humbling experience


Philip Roth, AM'55, sits down with Tina Brown to talk about writing and his latest novel, The Humbling. Watch one of the six segments from their chat:

About October 2009

This page contains all entries posted to UChiBLOGo in October 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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